N.M. R. Prof'l. Cond. 16-702

As amended through November 1, 2020
Rule 16-702 - Advertising
A.Permitted advertising. Subject to the requirements of Rules 16-701 and 16-703 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.
B.Payments for referrals. A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer's services except that a lawyer may:
(1) pay the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications permitted by this rule;
(2) pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A qualified lawyer referral service is a lawyer referral service that has been approved by an appropriate regulatory authority;
(3) pay for a law practice in accordance with Rule 16-117 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct; and
(4) refer clients to another lawyer or a non-lawyer professional pursuant to an agreement not otherwise prohibited under these rules that provides for the other person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer, if
(i) the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive, and
(ii) the client is informed of the existence and nature of the agreement.
C.Required information in communications. Any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name and office address of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content.

N.M. R. Prof'l. Cond. 16-702

As amended, effective October 1, 1989;August 1, 1992;November 1, 1993;January 1, 2000;November 15, 2000; as amended by Supreme Court Order No. 08-8300-29, effective November 3, 2008.

Committee commentary. -

[1] To assist the public in learning about and obtaining legal services, lawyers should be allowed to make known their services not only through reputation but also through organized information campaigns in the form of advertising. Advertising involves an active quest for clients, contrary to the tradition that a lawyer should not seek clientele. However, the public's need to know about legal services can be fulfilled in part through advertising. This need is particularly acute in the case of persons of moderate means who have not made extensive use of legal services. The interest in expanding public information about legal services ought to prevail over considerations of tradition. Nevertheless, advertising by lawyers entails the risk of practices that are misleading or overreaching.

[2] This rule permits public dissemination of information concerning a lawyer's name or firm name, address, email address, website, and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer's fees are determined, including prices for specific services and payment and credit arrangements; a lawyer's foreign language ability; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.

[3] Questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment. Some jurisdictions have had extensive prohibitions against television and other forms of advertising, against advertising going beyond specified facts about a lawyer or against "undignified" advertising. Television, the Internet, and other forms of electronic communications are now among the most powerful media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income. Prohibiting television, Internet, and other forms of electronic advertising, therefore, would impede the flow of information about legal services to many sectors of the public. Limiting the information that may be advertised has a similar effect and assumes that the bar can accurately forecast the kind of information that the public would regard as relevant. But see Rule 16-703(A) NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct for the prohibition against the solicitation of a prospective client through a real-time electronic exchange initiated by the lawyer.

[4] Neither this rule nor Rule 16-703 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation.

[5] Except as permitted under Subparagraphs (B)(1) through (4), lawyers are not permitted to pay others for recommending the lawyer's services or for channeling professional work in a manner that violates Rule 16-703. A communication contains a recommendation if it endorses or vouches for a lawyer's credentials, abilities, competence, character, or other professional qualities. Subparagraph (B)(1), however, allows a lawyer to pay for advertising and communications permitted by this rule, including the costs of print directory listings, on-line directory listings, newspaper ads, television and radio airtime, domain-name registrations, sponsorship fees, Internet-based advertisements, and group advertising. A lawyer may compensate employees, agents and vendors who are engaged to provide marketing or client-development services, such as publicists, public-relations personnel, business-development staff and website designers. Moreover, a lawyer may pay others for generating client leads, such as Internet-based client leads, as long as the lead generator does not recommend the lawyer, any payment to the lead generator is consistent with Rules 16-105(E) (fee splitting) and 16-504 (professional independence of the lawyer), and the lead generator's communications are consistent with Rule 16-701 (communications concerning a lawyer's services). To comply with Rule 16-701, a lawyer must not pay a lead generator that states, implies, or creates a reasonable impression that it is recommending the lawyer, is making the referral without payment from the lawyer, or has analyzed a person's legal problems when determining which lawyer should receive the referral. See also Rule 16-503 (duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of non-lawyers); Rule 16-804(A) (duty to avoid violating the rules through the acts of another).

[6] A lawyer may pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A legal service plan is a prepaid or group legal service plan or a similar delivery system that assists people who seek to secure legal representation. A lawyer referral service, on the other hand, is any organization that holds itself out to the public as a lawyer referral service. Such referral services are understood by the public to be consumer-oriented organizations that provide unbiased referrals to lawyers with appropriate experience in the subject matter of the representation and afford other client protections, such as complaint procedures or malpractice insurance requirements. Consequently, this rule only permits a lawyer to pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A qualified lawyer referral service is one that is approved by an appropriate regulatory authority as affording adequate protections for the public. See, e.g., the American Bar Association's Model Supreme Court Rules Governing Lawyer Referral Services and Model Lawyer Referral and Information Service Quality Assurance Act (requiring that organizations that are identified as lawyer referral services (i) permit the participation of all lawyers who are licensed and eligible to practice in the jurisdiction and who meet reasonable, objective eligibility requirements as may be established by the referral service for the protection of the public; (ii) require each participating lawyer to carry reasonably adequate malpractice insurance; (iii) act reasonably to assess client satisfaction and address client complaints; and (iv) do not make referrals to lawyers who own, operate or are employed by the referral service).

[7] A lawyer who accepts assignments or referrals from a legal service plan or referrals from a lawyer referral service must act reasonably to assure that the activities of the plan or service are compatible with the lawyer's professional obligations. See Rule 16-503 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Legal service plans and lawyer referral services may communicate with the public, but such communication must be in conformity with these rules. Thus, advertising must not be false or misleading, as would be the case if the communications of a group advertising program or a group legal services plan would mislead the public to think that it was a lawyer referral service sponsored by a state agency or bar association. Nor could the lawyer allow in-person, telephonic, or real-time contacts that would violate Rule 16-703 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

[8] A lawyer also may agree to refer clients to another lawyer or a non-lawyer professional, in return for the undertaking of that person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer. Such reciprocal referral arrangements must not interfere with the lawyer's professional judgment as to making referrals or as to providing substantive legal services. See Rule 16-201 NMRA and Rule 16-504(C) NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Except as provided in Paragraph E of Rule 16-105 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer who receives referrals from a lawyer or non-lawyer professional must not pay anything solely for the referral, but the lawyer does not violate Paragraph B of this rule by agreeing to refer clients to the other lawyer or non-lawyer professional, so long as the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive and the client is informed of the referral agreement. Conflicts of interest created by such arrangements are governed by Rule 16-107 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Reciprocal referral agreements should not be of indefinite duration and should be reviewed periodically to determine whether they comply with these rules. This rule does not restrict referrals or divisions of revenues or net income among lawyers within firms comprised of multiple entities.

[Adopted by Supreme Court Order No. 08-8300-029, effective November 3, 2008; as amended by Supreme Court Order No. 15-8300-007, effective December 31, 2015.]


ANNOTATIONS The 2015 amendment, approved by Supreme Court Order No. 15-8300-007, effective December 31, 2015, substantially revised the committee commentary to provide additional guidance for practitioners regarding lawyer referrals; throughout the committee commentary, replaced "prospective clients" with "the public" and made stylistic changes. The 2008 amendment, approved by Supreme Court Order No. 08-8300-29, effective November 3, 2008, deleted "and solicitation" from the title; deleted former Paragraph A which permitted a lawyer to advertise legal services through the public media; deleted former Paragraph B which required a lawyer to keep a copy or recording of advertisements or solicitations; deleted former Paragraph C which prohibited a lawyer from giving anything of value or any benefit to a person for recommending the lawyer's services; deleted former Paragraph D which required that a lawyer's advertisement or solicitation include specified information; deleted former Paragraph E which specified the permissible information about fees that an advertisement or solicitation could contain; and added new Paragraphs A through C. The 2000 amendment, effective November 1, 2000, substituted "that" for "whether" following "(b) specifically states" in Paragraph E(3) and added the "Supreme Court Committee on Rules of Professional Conduct Comments" following the ABA Comment. The 1999 amendment, effective January 1, 2000, in Paragraph A, near the end, substituted "internet or through other written or electronice communication" for "or through written communication." The 1993 amendment, effective November 1, 1993, inserted "or a statement to the effect that the charging of a fee is contingent on outcome or that the fee will be a percentage of the recovery" in Subparagraph E(3) and added the last sentence of Subpargraph E(7). The 1992 amendment, effective for all lawyer advertisements mailed, displayed or broadcast on and after August 1, 1992, in Paragraph A, substituted "these rules" for "Rule 16-701" and inserted "billboards or signs"; rewrote Paragraph B; in Paragraph C, substituted "Payments for referrals" for "Expense limitations" in the heading and inserted "or otherwise provide a benefit"; deleted former Paragraphs D and E, relating to responsibility for content and claims of specialization, respectively; and added present Paragraphs D and E. Am. Jur. 2d, A.L.R. and C.J.S. references. - 7 Am. Jur. 2d Attorneys at Law §§ 62 to 66. Lawyer publicity as breach of legal ethics, 4 A.L.R.4th 306. Modern status of law regarding solicitation of business by or for attorney, 5 A.L.R.4th 866. Advertising as ground for disciplining attorney, 30 A.L.R.4th 742. Validity of state judicial or bar association rule forbidding use of law firm name unless it contains exclusively names of persons who are or were members of that state's bar, as it applies to out-of-state law firm, 33 A.L.R.4th 404. 7 C.J.S. Attorney and Client §§ 77 to 87.